For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Nietzsche and Ernst Jünger: From nihilism to totalitarianism"

by Ohana, David (1989)


The aesthetic-nihilistic revolution in western culture initiated by Nietzsche in the nineteenth century was transformed by Ernst Jtinger into a modern vision of technology and a new political pattern of totalitarian nihilism. Over and above 'nihilism'and 'totalitarianism' as such …

Key Passage

As Heidegger pointed out in his series of seminars on Junger which he gave from 1936 to 1940 and from 1940 to 1946, Junger’s ‘worker’ is to be understood first and foremost as a metaphysical prototype which emerged from the modernism of the beginning of the twentieth century.3J This prototype was influenced by Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, an embodiment of the metaphysics which prepared the way for the new man, in the same way as Rilke’s angle, Trakle’s stranger, Spengler’s barbarian, Sorel’s syndicalist, Wyndham Lewis’s vorticist and the Italian and Russian futurist. Junger wished to depart from traditional European history: unlike Max Weber, he did not regard work as an expression of the Protestant desire for acceptance by God, and, unlike Marx, he did not consider it an expression of freedom or alienation. Jiunger’s ‘worker’ created the myth of the modern world. The essence of modernity was for him the total mobilisation of the worker as an existential style, and the metaphysical nihilistic consciousness as a normal condition.  (p.756)


Nietzsche, Jünger, Nihilism, Totalitarianism, Heidegger, Political Theory, Technology, Revolution


On Junger

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